• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Inaugural Bliss Shared By Most, Not All

May 14, 2010

Early morning sun rays played among the trees of La Sabana Park on inauguration day and a light breeze drifted through the infield scattered with arriving visitors and lined with rows of white EDITADO chairs.

The U-shaped grounds were ringed with podiums around the exterior and had foldout chairs spread throughout the infield. Oversize versions of the folkloric masks of the Gigante and the Giganta worn at civic fiestas sat atop columns separating the podiums, watching over the ceremony.

Around 9:30 a.m., the infield seats began to fill. The EDITADO ceremony commenced at 9:45 a.m. with the arrival of visiting dignitaries and presidents. Most Central American presidents were greeted by applause; with the exception of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega who drew a chorus of boos and whistles. That sour reception was followed by roaring applause and animated yells for Felipe de Borbón, the wildly popular Spanish Prince of Asturias.

A few minutes past 10 a.m., the arrival of outgoing President Oscar Arias drew a raucous cheer from the crowd. Many onlookers took to shouting “Oscar! Oscar!” as he walked the perimeter of the infield. The exiting membersEDITADO of his cabinet joined Arias in his walk.

After Arias was seated, the country’s new president, Laura Chinchilla, was announced.

Entering from the infield’s north side, Chinchilla waved to the crowd and shook hands with hundreds of uniformed schoolchildren sitting on the perimeter scaffoldings. The National Youth Symphony Orchestra struck up the music for Chinchilla’s promenade, while onlookers shaded themselves from the intense morning sun with the blue, red and white umbrellas given out at the event and white baseball caps that read “ Traspaso de Poderes.”

“I feel much happiness, much peace,” said Gianna Carallini, 53. “The transfer of power has been a calming time.”

Carallini hoped Chinchilla’s success would carve out a new path for women in Costa Rica. She and her husband, outfitted with red and blue handkerchiefs around their necks, cheered enthusiastically as Chinchilla was introduced to the crowd.

At the central podium, Chinchilla took her seat beside outgoing President Oscar Arias and incoming Legislative Assembly President Luis Gerardo Villanueva. This cued an exuberant cultural presentation on the central stage that included a parade of brightly painted carts pulled by prize oxen, a loud and brassy cimarrona – the village band that accompanies every civic event, and traditional dances of the Guanacaste and Limón provinces. Displays depicting the themes of Chinchilla’s upcoming speech were then unveiled: they included a classroom, a wind turbine to convey a commitment to clean energy, and a satellite to emphasize Chinchilla’s goal of seeing the country advance in technology and space travel.

After the national anthem, Arias removed the blue, red and white sash of the Costa Rican flag from his shoulder and transferred it to the nation’s new president. Chinchilla stepped to the front of the podium, blew kisses to the crowd and then passionately kissed the sash. She turned and embraced Arias and members of her family as the first female president in the history the country.

In the opening of her speech, she commented on her country’s beauty:

“I introduce myself with open arms stretched across Costa Rica, to all its people, all its geography, all its parts and splendid diversity. We have congregated here, in the fresh air and under the sun, surrounded by mountains, which wind into further ranges and prairies, all encapsulated within a distance of 119 kilometers, between the immensity of two oceans. The mountains raise us to the infinite, as they invoke transcendence, and the majesty of the oceans mark the path of universality and brotherhood.”

The tranquil crowd hung on her words and waved their flags throughout the 25-minute speech.

protesters

Meanwhile, on the eastern edge of the park, protesters engaged in another type of speech. Hundreds filled the blocked-off street, many wearing red shirts, and brandishing vivid signs to call attention to what they see as the dangers of the Crucitas open-pit gold mine. Several protesters clashed with police near the León Cortés statue as the inauguration ceremonies concluded, resulting in some minor injuries and over 10 arrests. Both sides blamed the other party for instigating the scrape.

Back at the inaugural grounds, 84-year-old José Valverde said, “of all the inaugurations I’ve been to, this was the most powerful and best-organized.” Chewing on a wrinkled apple, he recounted his memories of the five previous presidential swearing-in ceremonies he’d attended. “Her priorities match the priorities of the people. She makes me hopeful for the direction of this country.”

Chinchilla’s role as a woman politician hints at new directions in Costa Rica’s social realm.

“It’s definitely a change with everything,” Venegas said. “Politically, of course. But also it represents change by having the country’s first woman president. It represents a hope.”

You may be interested

Fight against Covid a ‘countrywide achievement,’ Costa Rica says at commemoration
Costa Rica
1232 views
Costa Rica
1232 views

Fight against Covid a ‘countrywide achievement,’ Costa Rica says at commemoration

The Tico Times - March 8, 2021

The Costa Rican government on Sunday aired a national broadcast in commemoration of the anniversary of the first coronavirus case…

How 6 Exotic Animals in Costa Rica Got Their Names
Environment and Wildlife
6369 views
Environment and Wildlife
6369 views

How 6 Exotic Animals in Costa Rica Got Their Names

The Tico Times - March 7, 2021

When it comes to pointing out animals, some people in Costa Rican can be extremely unspecific. Sometimes it seems that…

Slothy Sunday: Restrictions are lifted, now what? See sloths, what else!
Sloth Sundays
2564 views
Sloth Sundays
2564 views

Slothy Sunday: Restrictions are lifted, now what? See sloths, what else!

Mariana Diaz / Toucan Rescue Ranch - March 7, 2021

This is officially the first week we are all allowed to drive again on both days of the weekend, how…